Adolescent Substance Misuse Conference Hosted by Addiction Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin

Posted on: 29 September 2005

More emphasis on targeted, family-based interventions needed

“We need a complete change of mindset in how we intervene to prevent young people’s drug and alcohol problems,” states Barry Cullen from TCD’s Addiction Research Centre, which holds its Fifth Annual Conference on Thursday, September 29th.

The conference entitled School and Family Based Programmes for Preventing Substance Misuse, brings together community & youth workers, counsellors, health service managers and policy-makers to explore the complexity of drug and alcohol prevention, with particular emphasis on uncovering the evidence of what is effective and what works in preventing these problems.

“In this era of health reform, and evidence-based practice,’ argues Mr. Cullen, “ It is time to acknowledge that the approach of exposing all children to information about drugs and their effects, has been shown repeatedly to be ineffective and that scarce public resources would be better deployed in implementing evidence-based interventions such as the Strengthening Families Programme, with selected families who have been identified as vulnerable and high-risk ”.

The conference addresses three separate themes: Being Realistic about School Programmes, which debates the evidence that universal education programmes contribute to effective prevention; Prevention with High-Risk Families, examining the research evidence supporting family-based models of intervention, with particular attention to the Strengthening Families Programme, which is highly rated in the international literature including a Cochrane review; and The Whole School Approach, looking at issues arising from the implementation of drug and alcohol policies in schools from both national and regional perspectives.

Speakers at the conference include Dr Karol Kumpfer, the US-based originator of Strengthening Families Programme, Julian Cohen, a UK-based independent researcher and consultant in drug education, Willie Collins, Regional Drugs Coordinator with the Health Services Executive and Bernie McDonnell of the Community Awareness of Drugs organisation.